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Former England call-up Lewis Boyce offered rugby league trial

By Ian Cameron
Lewis Boyce of Harlequins during the Aviva Premiership Big Game 10 match between Harlequins and Northampton Saints at Twickenham Stadium on December 30, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Steve Bardens/Getty Images for Harlequins)

Leeds Rhinos have reportedly invited former Harlequins and Bath forward Lewis Boyce to join the early stages of their pre-season training on trial, according to Love Rugby League.

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The initial group of Rhinos players resumed training last week after the off-season hiatus, with Boyce, a prop in rugby union, apparently set to join them.

Boyce, a 27-year-old with roots in the Leeds area, has spent his entire professional career in union, starting with Yorkshire Carnegie in Leeds before moving to Harlequins in 2017 and subsequently joining Bath in 2019. More recently, he featured in the RFU Championship for Ealing Trailfinders.

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At one stage Boyce was in the mix for an England cap, having been called into an England training camp in January 2018 by Eddie Jones prior to their Six Nations Championship opener against Italy. The former England U20 star ultimately never won a cap at senior level.

The fact that the 6’1, 113kg Boyce was a loosehead in rugby union, a specialist position not often associated with cross-code swaps, makes the move all the more intriguing. Although there were question marks over his scrummaging in the fifteen-man game, Boyce was known as a strong ball carrier and tackler, which suggests a move to rugby league might be a good fit for the 27-year-old.

The trial, which was organised by Rhinos’ coach Rohan Smith, spans two weeks and serves as an exploratory opportunity for both parties to assess Boyce’s adaptation to rugby league.

While discussions regarding a potential deal have not transpired, Boyce aims to impress during Leeds’ pre-season preparations in the hope of securing a longer-term opportunity.

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Although a formal agreement remains distant, Leeds could exploit a salary cap loophole if Boyce were to join, valuing him at £0 in the first year under the new talent pool dispensation, applicable to players transitioning from union to league.

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